I’m in the process of building a shed which was first featured in ReadyMade Magazine. (sadly no longer around.) I managed to grab the plans and some photos from the site before it went offline.
These are the plans for the MD100, by architect Edgar Blazona. It’s something that you should be able to do yourself for about $1500. I’ve modified his 10 x 10 foot design to work in our backyard.

I’ll post the full set of pictures of our building process once we’re done. In the mean time, here are the plans from ReadyMade.

In order to make use of my daily commute to Mountain View, I’ve started listening to audio books. I started with Quiet: The power of Introverts, by Susan Cain. Her TED talk is below.

For more on Cain’s work, check out her TED talk.

I had a few key takeaways from the book.

  1. I see a lot of parallels between design thinking extroversion
  2. I’m also seeing lots of parallels between the craft of design and introverted personality types.
  3. Prototyping requires both mindsets

1. Extroversion and Design Thinking

Extroversion is about getting energy from groups of people and lots of stimulus. This creates the ability to make quick decisions with limited information, which allows you to move quickly and tackle new situations. On the design thinking side, you can see how this mindset would work well with rapid protoyping, space saturation, brainstorming, and exploring the unknown all call on similar types of skills or proclivities. Spend any time at the d.school during a class and you’ll feel the energy buzzing off the place. There’s no shortage of stimulation.

2. Introversion and Design

In contrast, introverts are drained by environments with a lot of stimulus. They are more energized by serene environments. And although they may not have the same decisiveness as their extroverted brethren, they tend to stay with problems longer and have better patience for complexity and ambiguity. As a designer and introvert, Cain’s description felt spot on. I’m drained by too many people, I prefer one-on-one interactions or, at times, putting on my headphones and working through the problems of a particular design challenge. Dialoging with the challenge at hand. To me, this is the craft of design.

3. Prototyping – The Bridge

So here’s the tension for me. I’m a design thinker. I’m also a designer, and an introvert. And all of this comes to a head with prototyping. To be an effective prototyper you need to have a bias to action (a strength of extroverts). But you also need an ability to shift from group conversation (more extroverted) to the typically solitary act of making. To do that, you need to focus and solve the complex problems that come when moving from any idea to reality (strength of introverts). Paul Graham’s Maker’s Schedule idea touches upon this as well. So we’ve got to move fast, and we’ve got to go deep. What’s a girl to do?

My solution. You’ve got to be able to slide between the two axes. (Cartesian, not Bunyan). Cain talks about the need for introverts to “perform extroversion” in order to be successful in business environments. I think of it as popping out of my hole, peeking around, sharing, then dropping back down. The trick is to do it enough that you get the benefits of sharing, of feedback and dialogue with your team, customers, etc, but not stay out so long that you start to get drained by the experience. Make sure you know where you get your juice and structure your work, your teams and projects in a way that allows you to be there as much as possible.

Handmade shoes and shoemaking classes. I saw these guys at Renegade Craft Fair when I was in Chicago a couple of weeks ago. Looks fun!


And, if you want some custom shoes, check out Moxie shoes made locally in Oakland! Woohoo! If you are in the Bay Area, check her stuff out. I saw her a few months ago at First Friday in Uptown. The shoes look great. Support a local business!


Design Thinking at the LA County Department of Public Social Services from Stanford d.school on Vimeo.

It’s so exciting for me to see the real world impact of design thinking. I worked with Phil in the summer of 2011 at the d.school’s executive education program. It’s impressive to see the impact he was able to make and the scope of change. Well done Phil!

The financial year for Intuit just ended. It has plenty of implications for product strategies, 3 year road maps, budgets, and headcount. As that trickles down, it also means that things like yearly goals are due. I typically dismiss this stuff as corporate bullshit and then go through the motions. But this year, I’m using the corporate structure as an excuse to think about my own journey and professional exploration. In the process, I pulled out a job description I wrote for myself about a year ago, before I started my current role. I thought I’d share it.

We are looking for the following:

An experienced designer who:

  • Wants to develop both the brand and the product direction.
  • Is passionate about translating user needs into compelling experiences (both off and online)
  • Has proven leadership skills
  • Is a jack of most trades
  • Has a passion for the craft of his or her core skillset
  • Creates experiences that go well beyond the disciplinary touch points (interaction design goes beyond the screen, etc)
  • Knows when to sweat the details and when to let them slide
  • Executes with speed
  • Understands that user-centeredness should extend to his or her team
  • Is itching to make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions
  • Has experienced the rollercoaster of a startup
  • Has a good sense of humor
  • Has enough confidence to surround him/herself with smarter team members (preferably ones with a diverse skill set).
  • Fights for ideas, but is humble enough to let them go
  • Doesn’t have to be the lead singer, but can do a kick ass solo every so often
  • Desires to continually stretch his or her skills
  • Has an intuitive sense of the importance of team dynamics
  • Facilitation experience
  • Thorough understanding of design thinking


  • Can write good
  • Has teaching experience
  • Understands what it takes to build interactive experiences
  • Communicates visually
  • Can create compelling motion graphics
  • Loves making beautiful things/experiences/objects
  • Knows that a live-work balance makes for more productive workers
  • Located in the East Bay

About Us:

  • We are a mature and driven group (regardless of age).
  • We have a solid business/financial structure.
  • We understand the value of creative thinking. (We want it to inform our products)
  • We have kids, or a partner, a dog, or any other passion that’s primal enough to contextualize where work fits into our lives.
  • We honor multiple perspectives. We think it makes better products.
  • We know that different situations require different types of leadership.
  • We expect to find fulfillment in our work.
  • We try to help develop our coworkers personally and professionally.
  • We have a variety of interests, we think it makes us smarter.
  • We get our work done, then we go home.
  • We value diversity of all sorts (ethnic/queer/mindset)
  • We are present.
  • We’ll tell you if you’ve got spinach on your teeth.

Ceremony Invitation

Sharing this is long overdue. In April we celebrated our commitment to one another, which also happened to be our 8 year anniversary. I was really proud of the invitation (a 11×17 poster) that we created which was inspired by the work of Nicolas Felton. Our relationship is something that we create every day, so it was fun to capture the story of our eight years together with some good old fashioned graphic design.

Last month I demoed how to make a ballet flat from a one-piece pattern at Maker Faire in San Mateo. You can see the video soon. (See other Craft videos here.)

For now, I wanted to write up a bit of what I discussed in the Maker Faire demo. As I’ve been writing it up, I realize that there are many places where some additional illustration would help. I’ll generate those in time. For now, I hope this helps and I’d love any questions about areas that don’t make sense.

1. Start with the Last.

2. Cover the last with painter’s tape. Alternate the direction of the tape and overlap the strips.

3. Draw in the centerline.

4. Then draw in the topline. (In a more detailed version, you would also draw in the draft lines, CP and V points. Not shown here)

5. Cut along the center line (on the back only) and the topline. Carefully peel off the tape.

6. Flatten the painter’s tape against a piece of paper.

7. Cut out the taped piece and paper.

8. Fold the pattern along the centerline. (in this case, the back top edges should come close to lining up)

9. Fold a piece of cardstock legnthwise. (it should be at lease 2 inches larger than your pattern.) Regular paper will do, but I prefer cardstock for it’s heft.

10. Place the pattern against the folded cardstock. You’ll align both folded edges. Then, place a tack just under a quarter of the way down the pattern. You will use this to rotate the pattern and allow for the spring in the last.

11. Draw in the bottom line. Stop at the vertical line. (the widest part of the foot, typically)

12. Pivot the pattern with the tack in place. The top of the heel line should be about 3/16″ from the fold. Then trace the remaining outline.

12. Add 3/4″ along the bottom line that you just drew. This is to account for the lasting allowance. (the extra material you’ll need to pull under the bottom of the shoe.

13. Add a note at the back heel to add 1/4″ seem allowance. Then cut out the forme. It should be symmetrical.

14. Unfold the forme and place it against your material. The material should be wrong side up.  In this case, I’ve used felt so it doesn’t matter. Outline the pattern completely. Then add 1/4″ seam allowance at the back.

15. Cut out the material. And mark the centerline using the forme. (Not shown here).

16. Fold along the centerline. Wrong side out.

17. Line up the inner heel line. This line will be more accurate than the cut lines. Be careful with this step since it will greatly affect the fit of the shoe. Once aligned, clip the edges. (or, if using felt, you can pin them) Then sew along the heel line. (The dashed line in this illustration.

18. Cut out the midsole. Using the last, trace an outline of the bottom edge on vegetable tanned leather or a similar material. Copex 300 works, but so will cardboard for prototypes.

19. You will now have a midsole. Check to see that it is very close to the feather edge (bottom) of the last. Trim if necessary.

20. Nail the midsole against the bottom of the last. With leather, the smooth side should be touching the last. Brads work well as nails since they are smooth, small and bend easily. Flatten the nails to keep the midsole in place.

21. Turn over the last. Now place the sewn upper over the last. Line up the upper so that it matches the intended topline. Near the top of the back line, nail a shoe tack (brass if working in leather) into the back of the heel. This will keep it from slipping off during the lasting process.

22. Lasting the shoe. Now you’ll last the shoe. Start with the toe and heel. Pull the material taught, then tack. Then start to move to the sides of the shoe, checking continually to make sure you aren’t distorting the upper. A timelapse video of me lasting can be seen here. There are also many videos online which demonstrate this process with far more craft than I can offer.

23. Once the shoe has been lasted, trim away any excess material. Then trace the outline of the remaining material on the bottom of the midsole. This will help show you where to apply the glue and give you a reference for connecting the upper and midsole during the gluing process.

24. You’ll want to do the following step in stages. First pull out the tacks for zone one. Then glue both sections of zone 1. That way, the shoe will stay in place as you pull out some tacks for the gluing process.

25. Pull out the tacks for the first two sections of zone 1.

26. Glue the underside of the upper and the midsole. Let dry. Then attach in place. Once attached, hammer to fasten. Repeat this process for the remaining zones (2 and 3.)  Take care not to get any glue on the last. Doing so will make it very difficult to remove the last without damaging the shoe.

27. Once all the tacks have been removed, take out the brads. You’ll also want to sand the bottom of the shoe smooth and add cork to any cavities that exist. For shoes with any kind of heel, you’ll want to add a shank for support.

28. Cut out the outsole using the same process as cutting the midsole. Apply glue to the bottom of the last and the inside of the outsole.

29. Carefully attach the outsole to the shoe. Hammer in place.

30. Break the last. (basically, utilize whatever hinge mechanism exists on the last.) Pull the last from the shoe.

You’re done! Assuming, of course that you’ve been doing all of the above steps for both feet.

I was playing with a simple pattern for this middle seam boot for my father. Once I was able to get most of the boots lasted I knew that I’d made a mistake with the geometry of the pattern. The angle of the upper part of the boot was skewed forward. (They’d be perfect for walking up a steep hill or leaning into a hurricane.)

I’ll have to adjust the pattern and recut. No biggie though, it didn’t take long. Thank God for working with cheap materials.

I can’t believe Maker Faire is right around the corner.

I’ll be speaking at the Craft Demo Area at 5pm on Sunday, May 22nd. It’d be great to see you there.

flattening out the pattern

Flattening out the pattern.

Oh, so busy. Both with work and fun stuff as well.

I don’t have time to write up all the details right now, but, go to my Flickr page if you want to get a preview of the steps I’ll be demonstrating at Maker Faire in a couple of weeks.

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